Business/Finance

The Weekly Carboholic: Tipping points will be difficult to identify

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tdat

Is the Earth’s climate approaching a critical transition, aka a “tipping point,” beyond which major and largely unpredictable climate changes are guaranteed to occur? At this point, scientists do not know the answer to that question. A study published in the journal Nature aims to explain the mathematics of critical transitions beyond just the Earth’s climate and in the process, determine if there are early-warning signals that indicate when a complex system is about to undergo a critical transition.

According to the paper, every complex system, whether it be climate, asthma attacks and epileptic seizures, or systemic crashes in financial markets, exhibits the same basic precursor signs of a tipping point, at least mathematically speaking. All complex systems exhibit one or more of the following early-warning signs: they can take longer to recover from small perturbations and become less random over time (“critical slowing” in the paper), they can bounce dramatically between the old and new states (“flickering”) before finally settling in the new state, or they can develop patterns that gradually change before suddenly disappearing into a new state (“spatial patterns”).

With regard to climate, reconstructions have identified the hallmarks of “critical slowing” in multiple climate transitions:

In a recent analysis, a significant increase in autocorrelation was found in each of eight examples of abrupt climate change analyzed.

And the authors reference one other paper which suggests that recent climate variability is an example of “flickering” that signals a transition to a significantly colder global climate.

The problem, however, is that not all critical transitions show each early-warning sign – some transitions might show more than one while others show one this time and another next time. The result is clearly state in the paper:

[D]etection of the patterns in real data is challenging and may lead to false positive results as well as false negatives.

In other words, not all fast transitions are “critical transitions,” not all critical transitions will be detected, and sometimes a critical transition will not occur even though there were signs of one approaching.

In essence, the science of critical transitions is still very young, and as such, projections of tipping points should be very carefully analyzed, whether they be toward a new glacial period or a sudden melt of all the Arctic sea ice.

For news of a few politicians expecting a “social tipping point” on climate disruption soon, please read this piece by my colleague Wendy Redal.

Thanks to Ubertramp for pointing this paper out to me and to Dr. Scheffer for providing a review copy of the paper.

———-

uscocU.S. Chamber of Commerce President complains about environmentalists

Over the last several weeks, three utilities, Nike, and now Apple have resigned from or otherwise reduced their participation in the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCOC), a business lobbying group that represents millions of U.S. businesses. As a result, the USCOC President and CEO, Tom Donohue, held an hour-long press conference to defend the USCOC’s decision to oppose EPA regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

According to the Greenwire report on the event (linked above), Donahue claimed that an “orchestrated pressure campaign” by environmentalists was responsible for the recent defections. However, National Resources Defense Council climate campaign director Peter Altman disagrees. From the article:

“It’s nice of Donohue to give the environmental movement credit for being able to convince Fortune 500 companies what group they should be a part of,” Altman said. “But it’s a red herring. These companies are making the decision on their own.”

Furthermore, San Francisco venture capitalist Nancy Floyd was quoted as saying “This issue (climate change regulation and/or legislation) has really divided the business community. The divide is not really along traditional players versus technology players; it is across the board.”

To date, the USCOC has not changed its position with respect to EPA regulation of GHGs or chosen to get behind either the Waxman-Markey ACES act or the new Kerry-Boxer draft legislation in the Senate. However, two Silicon Valley business organizations ran an advertisement in the San Jose Mercury News and the Congress Daily saying, in part:

As our European and Asian competitors move forward to build the next generation of clean energy technology, the U.S. Chamber seems mired in false debates over settled science and a 20th Century approach to energy. It’s time for the “voice of business” to move forward, embrace a market-based cap on carbon pollution, and help lead a new century of American prosperity. (emphasis original)

The two Silicon Valley organizations are the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) and Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network (JVSV). A brief scan of the membership of SVLG turns up a veritable who’s who of tech companies, as well as some banking, health, and energy companies: Adobe Systems, Apple Computer, AT&T, Bank of America, Chevron Energy Solutions, Citibank, Dell, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Lockheed Martin, McAfee, Microsoft, NASDAQ, Netflix, Oracle, Palm, Roche, Seagate, Sun Industries, Symantec, and Yahoo!. And those are just the ones that most people would recognize – the list is even more impressive for someone who works in technology like I do – nearly all of the major U.S. electronics manufacturing companies have a presence in the SVLG.

Perhaps even more impressive, however, is that the JVSV signed on. The Directors include the mayor of San Jose, a product manager for Google, the Chancellor of the University of California – Santa Cruz, a senior VP at Bank of America, the CEO of Cypress Envirosystems, a California State Senator, to name just a few. The private companies who invest in JVSV are just as impressive as those involved in the SVLG: Cisco, National Semiconductor, Mitsubishi, PG&E, the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, and McKinsey & Company.

The JVSV represents business, labor, universities, city and state government, and non-profits, all of whom are involved in charting the future of the most visionary, profitable, and productive companies and region in the entire country. And they just told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that they were “dinosaurs.”

Perhaps this advertisement points will convince the USCOC to change its approach to climate legislation and regulation – or perhaps the USCOC will become irrelevant as the companies with vision abandon it and the USCOC’s positions become equivalent to those of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

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deloachbarrelBarrels instead of bottles

According to the NYTimes Green Inc. blog, a number of wineries are foregoing bottles and are instead shipping their wine in barrels. As a result, the wineries are saving money on reduced packaging and are dramatically lowering their carbon footprint due to shipping and bottle manufacturing.

As a beneficial side effect, the wine lasts longer in barrels than it does in bottles.

This is hardly the first time that companies have pushed for reduced packaging – Wal*Mart was one of the first, but it’s hardly the only company working this angle. Still, anything that makes wine cheaper to drink for myself and my family is all good for me – even if that means I have to buy nearly a case at a time.

———-

pteropodOcean acidification to turn parts of the Arctic Ocean corrosive by 2018

Scientists researching ocean acidification in the Svalbard Archipelago north of Norway have made a surprising and awful discovery – the Arctic ocean is acidifying so fast that 10% it will become corrosive within the next 10 years and the entire Arctic will become corrosive by 2100. The Guardian newspaper reported last week on a presentation by French oceanographer Jean-Pierre Gattuso that revealed the terrible news. From the article:

“This is extremely worrying. We knew that the seas were getting more acidic and this would disrupt the ability of shellfish – like mussels – to grow their shells. But now we realise the situation is much worse. The water will become so acidic it will actually dissolve the shells of living shellfish.”

According to the article, the problem is that shellfish form the base of a massive food chain for herring, salmon, and several species of whales. In addition, walruses and seals subsist on shellfish and fish, and polar bears and other top predators feed on the seals and walruses, as well as on fish. So if the bottom of the food chain is disrupted by corrosive seawater, then the entire ecology of the Arctic could be disrupted. And the only way to prevent this is to dramatically and immediately cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

If you enjoy salmon or king crab legs, or even if you just enjoy the show Deadliest Catch, you might want to consider enjoying them sooner – there may not be a “later.”

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El Niño and its relationship to ocean heat content

Back in October, 2008, I pointed out in comments to another Carboholic that La Niña years were cold because the ocean absorbed heat from the atmosphere and that El Niño years were hot because the ocean emitted stored heat back into the atmosphere. This comes from the physics of thermodynamics, specifically the fact that energy moves from hot areas to cold areas, and not the other way around.

I recently came across this same basic information presented in a different form by the Climate Prediction Center’s El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion page and the weekly ENSO updates contained therein:

The basin-wide equatorial upper ocean (0-300 m) heat content is greatest prior to and during the early stages of a Pacific warm (El Niño) episode (compare top 2 panels) and least prior to and during the early stages of a cold (La Niña) episode. (emphasis original), from page 9

In other words, the ocean heat content is lowest at the start of La Niña because after that, the La Niña is absorbing heat from the atmosphere and cooling it. Similarly, the ocean heat content is highest at the start of El Niño because after it starts, El Niño is emitting heat from the ocean back into the atmosphere and heating it.

enso-heat

Image credits:
AFP: Antara News Agency
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
DeLoach Vineyards
Russ Hopcroft, via Australian Antarctic Division
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center

29 replies »

  1. ‘Corrosive” ocean…what total balderdash. How do you sleep at night?

    “The ocean currently has a pH of 8.1, which is alkaline not acid. In order to become acid, it would have to drop below 7.0. According to Wikipedia “Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.179 to 8.104.” At that rate, it will take another 3,500 years for the ocean to become even slightly acid. One also has to wonder how they measured the pH of the ocean to 4 decimal places in 1751, since the idea of pH wasn’t introduced until 1909.”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/31/ocean-acidification-and-corals/

    Do take the time to read it and perhaps get your head out.

    • I guess it’s time to play another round of “Educate Judy.”

      First, the poster on that WUWT piece used Wikipedia as a serious reference, not scientific journals. That’s a strike against them right off the bat.

      Second, corrosiveness is not necessarily a measurement of the pH of the water. There is something called aragonite saturation that is the critical determining factor with respect to shell creation by marine life. Aragonite is a calcium mineral that is dissolved in seawater, and when the amount of it falls due to reactions with carbonic acid, there is less aragonite for mollusks, pteropods, and plankton to build their shells with. This is why scientists have been worried about acidification causing problems to young marine life.

      But when the amount of aragonite in the water falls even further, existing shells will start to dissolve, partly as a result of direct reaction with carbonic acid and partly as a result of balancing the amount of calcium in the shells vs. the calcium in the water.

      And third, I’ve posted no less than six Carbos since that post came out, four of which were about new scientific research and one of which was about multiple national science academies calling for reducing carbon emissions because of CO2s effect on the oceans.

  2. While I play “Educate Brian’s Dupes”.

    The fact that “six national academies” have been paying the piper. Governments are behind the scam..
    The IPCC was an “InterGOVERNMENTAL” Panel and only about 60 people put the report together…the rest were window dressing. The first clue it was a farce was that the Summary for Policy Makers came out months before the review of the science was even finished.

    Read Ian Pimmer on why ocean acidification is total BS.

    Not Enough CO2 in Fossil Fuels to Make Oceans Acidic: A Note from Professor Plimer
    http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2008/10/not-enough-co2-to-make-oceans-acidic-a-note-from-professor-plimer/

    And if you think I think you know what you are talking about……that is really funny. I don’t even think your name is what you say it is.

    • Judy,

      While you’re clowning yourself for everyone’s entertainment, maybe you can do something that I’ve really never seen a denier do. There’s apparently this massive global climate conspiracy, and everybody from the scientific establishment to liberals to tree-huggers to governments is in on it. What I wonder about is the motive. I mean, what all these conspirators are pushing for is expensive and inconvenient (seriously, you don’t think enacting all those policies is going to be a MASSIVE pain in the ass for everybody, costing more and requiring sacrifices left and right?)

      So what could possibly lead so many people to want to make it so hard on themselves and everybody else for no reason? Because I think we all understand the motivations for those who employ sock puppets like yourself.

      I’ll wait here while you go ask the PR department what you should say.

    • Judy, of course I didn’t think you’d consider someone who has actually researched ocean acidification by reading the latest scientific literature to know more than you do. After all, you seem to think that research and facts aren’t necessary to understand climate at all. In case you want to surprise me and actually educate yourself instead of relying on the work of others, here’s a couple of links to papers that discuss aragonite saturation and how it relates to shell formation in marine life: #1, #2, #3, #4

      Plimmer is probably right about having enough CO2 to drop ocean pH below 7.0. But as I mentioned above, that’s not what’s necessary.

      As for what the climate models did or did not forecast, I debunked that not less than three times just in the comments from my last Carbo, never mind all the times before that.

      I’ll build on Slammy’s question, though – what’s the motive? If it’s a government conspiracy, why would nearly every government on the planet voluntarily decide that they want to risk destroying their own economies (a claim that your fellow deniers make) in order to turn around something that doesn’t exist?

      Finally, it’s easy enough to verify who I am, Judy. Google my name – there’s only two people on the top page of results, and I’m not the British recluse who bought the AC Cobra line. If you dig a few pages back, you’ll discover that I’ve been on-line since 1991 or 92. It would have been a lot of work to create a bogus identity to solve a problem that was only barely coming into focus when I first started doing stuff on line.

  3. It’s game over!

    Warming emperor suddenly naked
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/warming_emperor_suddenly_naked#61844

    The ice is indeed cracking – under the feet of warming alarmism in Britain.

    First it was the BBC that at last dared to wonder:

    What happened to global warming?…

    For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise…

    Now the Daily Mail asks the same question:

    Whatever happened to global warming? How freezing temperatures are starting to shatter climate change theory

    Some of the Mail’s figures are wrong (about the NASA record), but the bigger picture is that the news cycle is finally turning. Once journalists start courting sceptical scientists with even a fraction of the energy that the courted the believers, they’ll be surprised to find how many they find.

    And more scientists will dare to be found, too. This is the like the moment in the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which the boy calls out: “But he’s naked.”

  4. Your tactic is stupid. Bolt reports only two. There are many more breaks in the dam of media censorship.

    Losing Their Religion: 2009 officially declared year the media lost their faith in man-made global warming fears http://www.climatedepot.com/a/3310/Losing-Their-Religion-2009-officially-declared-year-the-media-lost-their-faith-in-manmade-global-warming-fears

    Excerpt
    A steady stream of peer-reviewed studies, a continued lack of global warming, real world data and scientists continuing to dissent, have finally moved major establishment media outlets to report that the debate not only is “not over” but that skeptics may have been correct all along. [Note: Journalists are now sensing what Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh, warned about in 2008. “Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined,” Peden said.]

    Close followers of climate science development foresaw this collapse of the science is “settled” reporting way back in 2006. Here is a breakdown of how the science of man-made global warming and the alleged “consensus” has fared since 2006.”

    Keep reading at the site for the names and links to media abandoning the scam.

    It is soooo over!

    • If this comment were all I had by which to evaluate you, “Judy,” it’s all I’d ever need to know you for a noiser. Here’s the key: “It is soooo over!”

      See, Judy, science is a process. It’s never “over.” You’d know this if you’d ever taken a science class.

      I don’t expect this to diminish your zealotry in the least, but it’s important for people to notice when purveyors of faux science accidentally demonstrate that they don’t know the first thing about which they’re talking.

  5. It is sooo over because the foundation papers have been found to be based on cherry-picked data…and this is not about me and my ironic send up of style.

    Brian you blather..you do not debunk.

    “Global Warming” is, and always
    was, a policy for genocidal reduction
    of the world’s population. The preposterous
    claim that human-produced
    carbon dioxide will broil the Earth, melt
    the ice caps, and destroy human life,
    came out of a 1975 conference in
    Research Triangle Park, North Carolina,
    organized by the influential anthropologist
    Margaret Mead, president of the
    American Association for the
    Advancement of Science
    (AAAS), in 1974.

    http://carbon-sense.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/gw-hoax-born.pdf
    Club of Rome

    (Committee of 300 subversive body)

    This group was organized in 1968 by the Morgenthau Group for the purpose of accelerating the plans to have the New World Order in place by the year 2000. The Club of Rome developed a plan to divide the world into ten regions or kingdoms.

    In 1976, the United States Association of the Club of Rome (USACOR) was formed for the purpose of shutting down the U.S. economy gradually. The Technetronic Era Henry Kissinger was then, and still is, an important agent in the service of the Royal Institute for International Affairs, a member of the Club of Rome and the Council on Foreign Relations.
    http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/clubofrome.htm

    If you think you will be exempted from this because you are good little kiddies and support the scam, you have a rude awakening coming.
    “The common enemy of humanity is man.
    In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up
    with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming,
    water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these
    dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through
    changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome.
    The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”
    – Club of Rome

    • If I can stop laughing for a second. Congrats, Brian – we’ve finally chased the loon out of the bushes.

      “Global warming” is a genocidal conspiracy. Because trying to slow the pace of man-made greenhouse gas emissions is … ummm, unnatural? While letting them continue exploding is perfectly in line with the natural order of things. Or something.

      Wow. Up until now it was about some twisted version of “science.” Now it’s about the Trilateral Commission or the Illuminati.

      Sorry I accused you of being a sock puppet, Judy. I work in the corporate world and when they hire an astroturfer they tend to steer clear of truthers and the patently deranged. Clearly you are not a sock puppet.

      Keep up the good work. The truth is out there.

  6. You asked. Now what I post can be dismissed, but sorry, it is not a “conspiracy” because it is out in the open and is very clearly labeled Agenda 21. You might like to do some research on Maurice Strong (Earth Summit) and his business dealings involving Al Gore and the Iraq Oil For Food Program which he was in charge of.
    “Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.”
    – excerpt, UN Agenda 21

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_00.shtml

    Surely you can’t have failed to notice what has been going on with the Wall Street/Washington Fandango? Trillions now…..did you get to vote on that either?

    A good place to start your research on what is happening is the very academic http://www.globalresearch.ca/

    Also get with the times and drop the CO2 BS
    While the Sun sleeps
    Henrik Svensmark, Professor, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen

    “In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable,” writes Henrik Svensmark.
    Excerpt:
    “Ever since we put forward our theory in 1996, it has been subjected to very sharp criticism, which is normal in science.

    First it was said that a link between clouds and solar activity could not be correct, because no physical mechanism was known. But in 2006, after many years of work, we completed experiments at DTU Space that demonstrated the existence of a physical mechanism. The cosmic rays help to form aerosols, which are the seeds for cloud formation.

    Then came the criticism that the mechanism we found in the laboratory could not work in the real atmosphere, and therefore had no practical significance. We have just rejected that criticism emphatically.

    It turns out that the Sun itself performs what might be called natural experiments. Giant solar eruptions can cause the cosmic ray intensity on earth to dive suddenly over a few days. In the days following an eruption, cloud cover can fall by about 4 per cent. And the amount of liquid water in cloud droplets is reduced by almost 7 per cent. Here is a very large effect – indeed so great that in popular terms the Earth’s clouds originate in space.

    So we have watched the Sun’s magnetic activity with increasing concern, since it began to wane in the mid-1990s.

    That the Sun might now fall asleep in a deep minimum was suggested by solar scientists at a meeting in Kiruna in Sweden two years ago. So when Nigel Calder and I updated our book The Chilling Stars, we wrote a little provocatively that “we are advising our friends to enjoy global warming while it lasts.”

    In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. Mojib Latif from the University of Kiel argued at the recent UN World Climate Conference in Geneva that the cooling may continue through the next 10 to 20 years. His explanation was a natural change in the North Atlantic circulation, not in solar activity. But no matter how you interpret them, natural variations in climate are making a comeback.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/10/svensmark-global-warming-stopped-and-a-cooling-is-beginning-enjoy-global-warming-while-it-lasts/#more-10739

    • I’m sure that you’re confident that Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, that the moon landings were faked by NASA, that chemtrails are poisoning all of us, that the Priory of Scion are protecting Jesus’ ancestors from the Vatican, that the eye in the pyramid on U.S. dollars was put there by the Illuminati, that AIDS was created to kill black people, that the Beatles covered up Paul McCartney’s suicide, that black helicopters are responsible for cattle mutilations, that free energy technologies have been suppressed, and that Elvis didn’t die – he just went home. After all, they’re all just as well documented.

      Hail Eris!

      As for Svensmark’s claims, I’ve debunked several of them at least twice:

      “Svensmark’s various GCR claims” Debunked here and here.

      “Medieval Warm Period” Debunked here and here and here.

  7. On Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy…most people agree on that one it’s over 80% in the US. Chemtrails I see almost every day and barium is not good for you. The rest of it, sorry, not at all.

    Brian, you know damned well that Svensmark is talking about the sun’s magnetic envelope and not irradiance. Nobody has debunked him because his theory is misqoted…the old strawman technique again.

    • You didn’t even bother to look at either of those Svensmark links, much like you never do – neither link is related whatsoever to solar irradiance – both take his GCR claims on directly.

  8. I don’t really understand the GCR argument. GCRs don’t just come from our sun. They come from ALL suns and I think it is left over radiation from the Big Bang. The level of GCRs in our neck of the galactic woods (actually, I think this is basically true everywhere) is just about constant.

    However, the sun DOES impact the Earth’s magnetic field. The field really does get pushed around with changes in solar activity, assuming that activity occurs on the correct side of the sun (i.e. not all solar activity impacts the earth. It’s an orbital mechanics thing). It’s kinda like air hitting the wing of an airplane. More flow = tighter pressure gradients. So more solar activity = tighter magnetic gradients = more GCRs getting through.

    But hell if I know what that has to do with cloud cover and/or global warming.

  9. Ubertramp, the GCR argument goes like this.

    The sun’s magnetic field shields the solar system from GCRs just as the Earth’s field shields us from the solar wind. When the sun’s field is strong, fewer GCRs get through to impact the Earth’s atmosphere, and so fewer clouds are seeded by GCR reactions. When the sun’s field is weak, more GCRs get through and so more clouds are seeded. Svensmark says that this mechanism is the dominant solar influence on the Earth’s climate, even more than changes in spectral energy output (irradiance).

    Most of the climate scientists whom I’ve read have acknowledged a few things about this argument. First, they don’t expect it to dominate anthropogenic CO2, but can’t rule it out entirely. Second, doing more research on this is absolutely worth the time and energy spent on the research, because cloud formation and feedbacks (along with aerosol effects) are some of the things that they don’t have a good enough handle on yet.

    The problem is that several other science teams have looked at the same data Svensmark used to formulate his hypothesis and have found a couple of problems. The main problem is that the data shows correlation for earlier solar cycles, but little to no correlation in later cycles. In addition, the correlation in the earlier cycles was relatively low, suggesting that GCRs could have an effect, but that effect wasn’t particularly strong and had been overshadowed recently by other forces (aka AGW).

  10. Hmmm. The sun’s mag field isn’t the main driver for the impact of GCRs on Earth. I don’t think that changes much in a way we’d notice it on Earth. Certainly not on the time scale we’re talking about here. It’s solar activity + Earth’s mag field that’s important. And there’s no doubt that increases in solar activity will mess with Earth’s mag field. That part I’m sure of. These local fluctuations in the fields is part of what causes fluctuations in the drag on our satellites. What I don’t get is how GCRs cause clouds. Is it some sort of chemical reaction up in the stratosphere?

    • Yeah, you’re right – Svensmark says it’s the solar wind, not the solar magnetic field. That’s what I get for trying to explain this late at night.

      Svensmark hypothesized that the cascade of energetic particles that results from a GCR impact on the upper atmosphere would produce small sites of nucleation (IIRC) around which water vapor would condense, thus starting cloud formation. He did a test at CERN that appeared to support that hypothesis, but it was a “proof of concept” test, no a full-fledged “am I right or wrong” test. The results were good enough that he got more money for further testing at CERN, and IIRC he’s running those tests now.

  11. Well, that makes a bit more sense. And the theory actually seems sound. It just depends on a couple of things. Atmospheric chemistry and the threshold of GCRs to cause a change in cloud cover. Cool idea.

    In a strange way, you should be rooting for this guy if your a pollution guy. If, as you say, the data seem to line up for past cycles but not for this one, doesn’t that mean that something about the atmosphere has changed the chemistry recently? So even if he’s right, there still could be AGW impact, right? Or am I missing something? Of course, the flip side of this is, we may have changed the chemistry for the better. Who knows?

    • It is a cool idea, and there’s probably some truth to it. Obviously Svensmark disagrees with the other scientists who say that he’s either flat-out wrong or that he’s overestimating things, but that’ll get hashed out like it always does – with more experiments, more data, and sometimes ugly scientific debates.

      I’m not hoping one way or another, really. Instead, I’m hoping that his work advances climate science, and there’s little to no doubt that it will.

      If he’s right and GCRs help create cloud cover, then it’s simply GOT to go into climate models. Clouds are arguably the single biggest hole in climate models, and modelers have been working to understand cloud formation and cloud feedbacks for years. So this would be a big correction in the models that would make them much better. It’ll still take time to figure out whether he’s right on the magnitude of the formation, and that’ll probably take even more years after he’s proved cloud formation in principle.

      As you mentioned, if he’s right but something else changed recently, then we’ll need to attribute that change, and that’s a good thing because it advances climate science. In addition, if he’s right, then we need to understand how he could be given that there is significant concerns about a long-term trend in GCRs. In other words, either our historical proxies for GCRs are wrong, or he’s wrong, or something a lot more interesting than either Svensmark or his critics currently understand is probably going on.

      If he’s wrong, then we have eliminated one more possible cause for climate disruption.

      And in all cases, human knowledge of our world moves forward. And I always like more knowledge. 🙂

  12. Instead of pontificating, why don’t you just read the paper
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/10/cosmoclimatology-svensmark-et-al.html

    “The alarmists paid by George Soros seem to be jealous and they ask: “Why the continued interest?” They mean interest in the mechanisms by Svensmark et al.

    Well, because it seems to work, it seems to be justified by a flux of new articles, and because of reasons that are written in these articles. Because it may be the most important insight in climatology during the recent decades.

    I think that Svensmark and a few others must feel somewhat unpleasantly because they have found something that may be a spectacular discovery in their discipline, and possibly the first discovery of this discipline that could deserve a Nobel prize.

    Except that they simply can’t get the deserved credit right now because their discipline has been hijacked by a political movement that prefers ideologically convenient opinions over solid and non-trivial insights that are likely to be true because they are justified by the empirical evidence.

    I hope that the situation will change soon.”

  13. Judy, I’ll take a look. I may not follow some of what you and Brian seem to be yelling at each other about, but I think I can at least understand the GCR component. I’m still not sure who the heck this really helps in the debate, though. As Brian said, the impact of cloud cover is a huge variable.

  14. The Svensmark paper was interesting, if a bit over my head. I kept expecting to see R squared values so I could see how well the correlation fit, but maybe I live in a different statistical world. It does seem that Brian is right, though, in that this idea probably needs a bit more validation before it can be incorporated into climate models. If Svensmark’s findings hold up over time, I have no doubt that it will eventually be added, though. Do you know if Svensmark has been looking specifically at the South Atlantic anomaly? Seems like that would be an ideal place to test his theory since that’s where a lot of the GCRs get through.

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